EAST GAMBIER 58 d MILLICENT 46
IT was only a matter of time before Millicent’s stunning undefeated run ended, which happened at the hands of East Gambier in Round 5 of Western Border netball.
The rampaging Bulldogs started the match favourites against the reigning premiers – results in the first four rounds and the new look for the defending champions shaping that view.
Not since round 14, 2018 when West Gambier secured a 10-goal victory had the Saints suffered a loss and the weekend’s highly anticipated clash was always going to be a classic.
The battle of the top two did not disappoint, with Millicent holding a two-goal lead at quarter time before East worked its way to a two-goal half time buffer.
That lead was extended in a hard fought third term and sat at seven before the final quarter where East conjured significantly more scoring shots to take the premiership points with a 12-goal final margin.
Millicent came into the match with a plan for the star studded East line-up but four minutes in those plans had to be revamped when goal shooter Tabatha Sanderson dislocated a finger.
That shook up the Saints lineup, with Lucy Denton to goal shooter, Portia McRae onto the goal keeper role, Hannah Nitschke out to goal defence, Kimmi Tincknell to the defensive wing and Lisa Duldig back to centre.
Denton was impressive in goal shooter for the Saints and she scored 25 from 27 in the final three quarters and showed composure in the heat of battle.
But East was able to create more scoring opportunities.
With Emily Hunter controlling the mid-court and Tyne Bosko getting some important touches at wing defence, the Bulldogs kept building their lead.
The accurate finishing of Amryn Bosko and Tenille Gray was also a factor, especially in the third quarter where their 17 from 17 helped turn the match in the home side’s favour.
The impressive victory from the Bulldogs now sets them up much as the hunted, the new benchmark of the competition.
WEST GAMBIER 66 d NORTH GAMBIER 58
Another clash which was expected to be tight, delivered, as both North Gambier and West Gambier look to develop new look line-ups and have already suffered from the inconsistency that can bring.
The first three quarters were the goal-for-goal battle anticipated as the tall timber at either end – Tigers’ shooter Caroline Davey and West shooter Sarah Ritter – were strong targets and accurate finishers, ensuring almost every scoring opportunity ended up on the scoreboard.
Davey was coming off a 100pc shooting performance against Millicent and converted 39 from 44, including no misses in the second half.
While she was clearly the Tigers’ best, young defender Jade Ritter never gave up the fight and was one of the Roos most impressive performers.
At the other end, Sarah Ritter showed why she is considered high-end talent in the halls of power at Netball SA, netting 46 from 49 in a best-on-court performance.
North led by one at the first break, before West put the foot down to take a three-goal lead into the half.
By three quarter time the stage was sent for an epic finish with the scores tied at 50 apiece, built on the back of some critical turnover ball from the North defence and a 100pc shooting performance from Davey and Ellen Brown, who netted 20 from 20 to bring North back into the contest.
No one could have predicted how the final quarter would pan out.
Jade Ritter got some critical touches, restricting potential match winner Davey to four attempts and along with Amy Cram created enough turnover ball to give West the edge in supply as Tara Bryant, Carlee Ransom and Lisa McGregor were precise with ball in hand, showing patience until they could find Sarah Ritter in space.
It saw West dominate the scoreboard to take the quarter 16-8 and secure the win.
SOUTH GAMBIER 64 d CASTERTON SANDFORD 34
It was just not the Cats’ day as they hosted South Gambier in a match where both sides were gunning for a breakthrough victory in 2021.
The opening quarter was tight as the defenders from both teams made finding the goalers in space a difficult task and in the end it was the weight of supply that saw South enjoy a four-goal quarter time lead.
South had 25 scoring shots to 14, with the height of shooter Grace Edwards coming into play as she dominated the rebounding duels and earned the chance for second and third opportunities to score.
The second quarter was also tight as Cats defender Caeleigh Humphries started to win some important ball and Scarlett Jarrad’s strong driving saw Casterton Sandford continue to match it with the Demons.
The defensive pressure of Renee Pluckhahn, Brandi Bouchier and Ellie Bouchier was able to again restrict the scoring opportunities and were it not for the accuracy of Paige Murrell in the opening half, netting 17 from 19, the Cats might have trailed by more.
The Demons were again finding plenty of avenues to goal thanks to the strong driving of Imogen Walker and Alyssa Duncan who hit the circle hard and fed Lara Munro and Edwards with precision.
By half time the difference was just seven goals.
The stage was set for an epic second half with both teams swinging the changes in a bid to gain the edge.
Cats coach Tori Broomby moved into goals alongside Murrell, while Humphries and Foster swapped defensive roles and Madison Mutch moved to the attacking wing.
For the Demons, Olivia Patzel entered the game at centre and Hannah Witherow took the defensive wing.
The Cats got the better of the start in the second half but then Humphries fell awkwardly, injuring her wrist and was forced from the court.
No sooner had Humphries departed than Murrell, who was clearly impeded by a back issue, struggled to three quarter time but then also had to vacate.
It was clearly unsettling for the home side but the shining light was the debut of Ebany Jarrad who took the goal keeper bib in the last quarter.
While Edwards still secured plenty of scoring opportunities, Jarrad took some rebounds, got some important touches and took a handful of clean interceptions in a debut that will comfort the Cats.
The margin was 19 at the last change and 30 at the end, with a lack of accuracy in the final quarter from the Cats seeing the score blow out arguably beyond what the general play suggested.